Huge interest has led to the South African government delaying an announcement on a final list of preferred bidders in the latest round of its national renewable energy programme.

It had been due today to reveal the successful bidders for contracts under the third round of its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), but a Department of Energy statement said a large number of bids had been received, so final decisions had not been taken.

The bids were for power purchase contracts with South Africa's national utility, Eskom.

The statement revealed that of 93 bids received in total, 17 had been selected in an initial wave of preferred bidders.

This figure includes six preferred bidders for 450MW of PV, more than the 401MW of PV capacity initially due to be up for grabs in this round. Further details of these bidders have not yet been revealed.

A further 18 bids have been dismissed as “non-compliant” with the rules of tender, but the department said it was still considering further compliant bids under the PV and wind categories as possible preferred bidders. It said these categories had attracted the most interest.

“The department has taken note of the fact that a large number of very competitive bid responses were submitted for the third bid submission date in the onshore wind and solar photovoltaic technologies, and the department is considering the appointment of additional preferred bidders for those technologies from the remaining compliant bidders,” the statement said.

“As such, the preferred bidders that have been appointed in those technologies may not be the only preferred bidders that are appointed in those technologies for the third bid submission date, and no final decision on this has been taken at this time.”

A final decision would be made before 20 November, the department said.

In the run up to the third round bid deadline, some South African industry observers said that because of the huge interest in the programme from around the world, bids for up to 3GW of PV were possible.